Fresh Crisis Looms in PDP Over National Secretary Position

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A fresh crisis is looming in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over who should be the national secretary of the party.

There is an intense argument on who is the authentic national secretary of the party which has now become a subject of contest between Samuel Anyanwu and a former PDP National Youth Leader, Sunday Ude-Okoye.

How it started

Samuel Anyanwu, the substantive occupant of the position, stepped aside to contest in the 11 November Imo State governorship election under the PDP platform but lost to the incumbent governor, Hope Uzodinma of the All Progressives Congress.

He did not, however, submit a letter of resignation for the national secretary position of the party.

Meanwhile, in October 2023, some weeks before the Imo election, the leadership of the PDP in the South-east nominated Mr Ude-Okoye to replace Mr Anyanwu as the party’s national secretary.

PREMIUM TIMES reports that the position of the national secretary was zoned to the South-east by the PDP in 2021 ahead of the party’s national convention on 30 October of that year.

In the heat of the debate, a High Court in Enugu State, in October 2023, ordered the PDP to replace Mr Anyanwu as the party’s national secretary with Mr Ude-Okoye. The suit was filed by the former PDP national youth leader.

The PDP National Working Committee (NWC) had countered the order in a motion filed on 24 October 2023.

In the motion, the NWC asked the court to set aside the order, arguing that “it was obtained by fraud and suppression of material facts” and also faulted the order for not being specific as to what position Mr Udeh-Okoye should fill.

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In another twist, earlier this month, a Federal High Court in Abuja, declared Mr Anyanwu as the valid national secretary of the PDP.

The judge, Inyang Ekwo, also restrained the national leadership of the PDP from appointing any person as its acting national secretary until the expiration of Mr Anyanwu’s four-year tenure on 9 December 2025, as enshrined in the party’s constitution.

BOT writes PDP national chairperson
Shortly after the Abuja court ruling, the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the PDP, which had earlier asked Mr Anyanwu to resign, wrote a letter to the acting national chairperson of the party, Umar Iliya Damagun, demanding the recognition of Mr Ude-Okoye as its national secretary as ordered by the court in Enugu.

The PDP’s BOT, in the letter dated 11 January 2024 and signed by its chairperson and a former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, warned Mr Damagun against the consequences of not recognising Ude-Mr Okoye as earlier ordered by the court in Enugu.

In the letter which was copied to all 13 state governors elected under the PDP platform, the BOT pointed out that Mr Ude-Okoye was already in court before Mr Anyanwu filed his case in another court with “coordinate jurisdiction.”

The BOT argued that the judgment given by the Abuja court did not nullify the one given by the High Court in Enugu State given that only a higher court could override it.

“This is a classic case of abuse of Court process having been filed when a similar case was pending to the knowledge of the sponsors,” the BOT said in the letter.

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“The only time the judgment from the Enugu State High Court will cease to have effect is when it has been set aside by a superior court.

“Having not been set aside, it remains valid and subsisting and there is an urgent need for the party to obey it even if it is not convenient for some persons,” it added.

The BOT reminded the national chairperson of the Plateau State incident where members of the state and national Assemblies elected under the PDP platform were removed because they were said to have not been validly nominated, the BOT warned that the PDP may face a similar situation if a wrong person was allowed to be the PDP national secretary.

According to the constitution of the PDP, the national secretary is required to sign the nomination forms of candidates of the party taking part in any election, including the coming bye-elections in February.

“The refusal to obey this (Enugu High Court) judgment is an indication that the necessary lesson has not been learnt and there is imminent danger of the party losing seats across nine states in the bye-election if the judgment is not obeyed and this comes with attendant calamitous consequences for us as a party.

“As leaders, we should not carve a dubious reputation for PDP as a party that has a penchant for disobeying court orders,” the BOT stated.

“It is therefore important for us to embrace wise counsel and allow the rule of law to prevail by complying with the judgment and save not just the party but the interest of the candidates participating in the Bye-Election and other subsequent elections.”

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Makinde backs BOT

Meanwhile, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has expressed support for the BOT’s stance on the issue.

Mr Makinde, in a letter dated 15 January 2024 and addressed to Mr Wabara, said he was pleased with the BOT of the party “for standing up for equity, justice, fairness and the interest of the party” regarding who should be the national secretary of the party.

The governor said he agreed with the position of the BOT on the issue and urged them to continue on the path of speaking the truth as well as setting the “right standards and examples” for the party members.

“It is imperative that our great party does not take action inimical to our chances in forthcoming elections,” he said.

Credit: Premium Times

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